Using robotics in the AEC industry is appealing - increasing productivity and quality through automation.

Many technologies, such as 6-axis industrial robotic arms, have not yet been fully explored, due to the complexity of construction as well as the lack of specialist robotic programming skills.

To achieve the benefits of robotic production we have re-think our approach to design, manufacture and construction. Which of our design and construction current processes should be automated and which should be re-thought to provide the biggest benefit?

We shouldn’t automate just for the sake of it and we shouldn’t automate the wrong thing.

We have developed F.R.A.C. – a Framework for Robotics and Automated Construction – as the automation strand of our ‘Platform Approach’ to DfMA.

F.R.A.C. changes the design process. Instead of using existing components and automating their manufacture we are learning how to design components that are designed for robotic manufacture from the start.

F.R.A.C. provides an open, extensible and collaborative platform that enables all designers – not only specialists – to engage with robotic technologies and to embed digital manufacture workflows into their everyday design activities.

F.R.A.C. is an easy to use digital workflow that connects common design software to robotic technology tools, using custom-built apps to provide:

- XR environments for design and process interaction

- A library of manufacturing blocks as defined elements of process

- Real time data exchange between simulated systems across multiple devices

- Data visualisations and analytics for manufacturing optimisation

We are using F.R.A.C. to create a kit of parts that can be used to deliver many different building types including homes, office, hospitals, schools and as F.R.A.C develops further we will make the building blocks available under open source license during 2020/2021.